Alaska Robotics

Archive for the ‘Nerd’ Category

Shark Week

Friday, August 3rd 2012 by Pat

Ahhh yes, Shark Week, that nostalgic time of year when the people of the world set aside their differences. When families gather around the warm glow of a television to watch cartilaginous predators snack on nature.

If only there were more holidays based around marine biology, I think the world would be a better place.

I wrote this song with Marian Call and I have very little musical talent so allowing me to contribute a few words was a big thing. A bit like translating my clumsy sentiment into a new language… probably more similar to lending me wings.

I have great appreciation. Even if it is a silly song.

If you want to support us making more songs and movies you can pick up this track for a dollar at bandcamp. You’d be surprised at how many people contributed to this tiny song and Marian has a nice detailed list of the recording credits posted there.

The music video was shot at my cousin’s house and features Marian Call, Lael Rogers, Izzy Christensen, the Keltner family and a number of fierce and salty pirates.

The excellent shark fin hats, aprons, and oven mitt were made by Carol Race & Carol White.

Thank you everyone who helped with the singing and dancing and filming!!

Chomp! Chomp!

Marian Call’s European Adventure Quest

Monday, July 23rd 2012 by Pat

Marian’s Kickstarter has been wildly successful and I want to thank everyone who has helped to fund her project. She’s going to be touring a good chunk of Europe, recording a live album, creating some new songs, and doing some incredible covers of old favorites (Muppets, TMBG, Beatles!)

She’s also getting herself a much needed laptop and a few other bits of essential recording equipment to keep her music business alive and I’m happy to see so many people supporting her in her work. This is patronage.

It’s not pure charity though, far from it. If you’ve pledged, you’re getting much more in return than coffee mugs and T-shirts. The rewards at various levels are incredibly generous. The live album and “Got to Fly” for $15. Digital downloads of all her music for $35 including a bunch of stretch goal cover songs. A full length original song for a mere $2000!!?! Plus that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing you supported the arts very directly and immediately.

Ok. That’s my pitch on behalf of someone I care about a great deal. There’s just over a day left and I hope you’ll all consider making a pledge or raising the level of your existing pledge as the last few hours tick away. Thank you.

I am Emily White… well… not literally.

Thursday, June 21st 2012 by Pat

Kaboom! Big explosions going off in the world of music today. Maybe you read up on it already but I’ll break down some of the key posts..

Emily, an intern at NPR, wrote a frank article about the way her generation listens to music. Mostly, they don’t pay for it. Surprise.

David, of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, wrote a scathing response directed at Emily and her peers.

The thing is, I kind of want to support Emily here. I don’t know. She seems ok.

And maybe it’s because, in a way.. I am Emily.

I was a Computer Science major in college and I had access to things. Everythings. My drives were brimming with music and I was able to train myself in several high-end pieces of software I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.

I rationalized it of course, I wouldn’t have purchased these things and I wouldn’t have stolen them but cloning them was different, it did no harm.

Maybe I was wrong but I was a kid and kids get it wrong.

Emily for example, I never said she was right, I want to support her because I think she’s just being Emily. She’s offered up a frank assessment of how she consumes music and she’s been throttled with the club of morality. The pent up aggression of a thousand starving musicians is now focused on her like a laser… and hey.. did I mention, she’s a kid?

After college I went through a transition. First, as a business owner I made sure that every piece of software I used was legit. Then, I tried to clean up my music. It was a rocky transition, first to quasi-legal Russian Mp3 outlets and then to harvesting Mp3 files from music review blogs. Then, with one blunder, I accidentally wiped out my giant hard drive full of pirated Mp3s and I decided it was the end of an era.

I think the way people support the arts evolves with age. They get out of college, begin to understand real world economics and start to see that some of their favorite artists are insane people who will keep following their passions regardless of if they’ve been fed.

I think I do a lot more to support the arts these days than I did in college and I don’t know what you all were doing to support the arts at Emily’s age but guys, she’s interning at NPR.

Of course, all of this is bigger than music and the arts as Johnathan Coulton points out. It’s about.. Legos!?!

So.. yeah.. people are going to be printing toys and gadgets instead of buying them. Music is just one of the first bees out of the hive. Just you wait, it’s going to get stingy.

Kickstarter might be something to cling to. Maybe it’s a step towards the “Holding Things for Ransom” business model where an artist pitches an idea, gives a little taste of that idea, then tries to rake in cash up front before creating and releasing it to all the free grubbers.

This public review of proposed projects is fascinating. It actually seems similar to the old model of trying to submit your music to a label except now the label is the audience and maybe you stand a chance of finding your niche.

If you don’t, no one is stopping you and you can still pursue your project without up-front funding. At least you’ll be armed with the knowledge that people didn’t think it was worth supporting.. which is ok.. it isn’t about money and besides, they just don’t get it man.

As my personal economics improve and my abilities to support other artists improve, I try to support them more and more.

Evidence and more evidence and even more evidence.

I don’t think it’s a cultural shift for me, I think it’s more about my age and place in the world.

I’m sure Emily will turn out fine, ease up on her a bit.

Update: More reading from Chris Griffy – The Case for Digital Music

LEGO Robotics Challenge!

Monday, May 7th 2012 by Pat

The big gallery opening wasn’t the only event we had going last Friday. We also participated in the Lego Robotics Corporate Challenge, a fundraiser for the youth robotics teams in town.

This year we were cramped for time so at the last minute we gave up on all of our careful plans and built a chaotic smash-bot to destroy, rather than solve, the puzzles on the board. It was glorious. The theme was food safety and our little Monsantron got good and dirty out there crushing cattle and smashing rats with the Chop-tor 0′ Doom.

A big shout out to our team members in the Lego Robotics Division – Ty & Brevin Keltner, Ben Sapp, Jamie & Jen Karnik, and Tara Greenwood.

Thanks also to Susan Keltner for putting up with the strange noises coming from her basement at 3am.

Tara gave the newspaper what must have been a solid, full-page quote, the best unending line of pure unadulterated bullshit I’ve ever heard.

“It’s a non-deterministic universe and we are sort of moving out of the classical ideas of, you know, you have these inputs and you have a known output and in these chaotic times we wanted to tap into the interconnectedness of all things and to see what happens if we go back to the elementary and primeval … our algorithms are in some ways primitive or even shamanistic … it’s not just about destruction.”

– Tara Greenwood

You can read the rest of the article at the Juneau Empire.

Gingerbread Hoth

Wednesday, December 14th 2011 by Pat

I made some gingerbread last night with Marian and our friend Tara.

Marian wanted to do a Hoth scene which I thought was great.. so I stole the idea and got to work.

My AT-AT fell over and my landscaping sucked but I think the mini-figures pulled it all together.

Here’s the micro AT-AT. It’s the best little imperial stomper thing ever. Stomp stomp stomp.

Tara made Baba Yaga’s chicken hut, note the chicken feet and trails of candy to lure in plump Russian children.

Marian made the best Trogdor cookie ever, complete with consummate v’s.

We’re supposed to light the village on fire tonight, maybe I’ll get another picture.

Something Fierce – Marian Call

Friday, September 30th 2011 by Pat

Marian Call - Something Fierce

Marian’s new album comes out tomorrow. You should probably buy it.

If you aren’t familiar with her work, Marian Call is an Alaskan singer/songwriter and entrepreneur who creates lovely music about avocados and space ships.

I’m in no state to be conjuring the deserved praise, I didn’t get nearly enough sleep last night.

Just go get the album.

Trust me.

It’s amaaaaaaaaaaaazing.

.. and here are some variations on the above illustration.

Robots vs. Zombies

Friday, August 5th 2011 by Pat

Here’s an interview we did at comic-con for, an online zombie survival guide.

I’m standing by my answer, robots are much more dangerous than zombies. Robots have lasers and all kinds of wicked people killing technology while zombies pretty much just have perseverance and hunger.

Sure, it’s the kind of deep down hunger that wins football games but they’re so hopelessly outclassed. Robots can fly, they can be tiny, they can be giant, they can shoot missiles at you from space. They can repair themselves. Robots all the way.

The only way zombies would even stand a chance at wiping us out as fast as robots is if the disease mutated in such a way that it became airborne or could be carried by animals and insects. Even then, I’m going with robots. They’re a lot harder to take out with a baseball bat or an axe.

I guess it could be argued that robots require a lot of maintenance and resources but they know math. And that’s it, my final argument in favor of robots..

Math always wins.

San Diego Comic Con 2011

Sunday, July 17th 2011 by Pat

We’ll be at Comic Con and I wanted to come up with an easy way for people to find us in the crowd.. I made this instead:

Earth Elementals Occupy Liechtenstein

We’re located over on the outskirts of webcomics land, the orange zone on your handy dandy exhibition map.

We’ll have Alaska Robotics comics as well as several limited edition giclée prints and, for the first time, we’ll be selling these neodymium robot magnets.

They’re super strong and should be able to hold quite a lot of junk to a fridge or filing cabinet.

We’ll have gobs of shirts, this one is our popular Last Unicorn parody which is also available as a print.

Lou’s Hentai design is making the trip, we usually call it Thai Chicken when we’re too embarrassed to explain what Hentai is to a nice grandmother.

We might even have a Marian Call helping out at our booth from time to time. Who knows.

Hope to see you there!


Friday, June 24th 2011 by Pat

I signed up for Twitter a couple months back and I think I like it enough to occasionally post things there.

If anyone wants to follow me, I’m @alaskarobotics.

Also.. here are some whale postcards I sketched..


Friday, March 18th 2011 by Pat

Bob gave us an Omnibot2000. He’s the best. Bob is. Also Omnibot2000 is the best.